Oxidation or oxidative stress occurs when the body’s process for reducing oxygen is interrupted, leading to the creation of toxic substances such as free radicals and peroxides.
Free radicals such as superoxide anion, nitric acid, and ozone are chemically active atoms that have a charge due to either an excess or lack of electrons. When free radicals are unleashed in your body through environmental pollution and toxins in food and cosmetic products, they begin scavenging in the body, searching for electrons to grab hold of or get rid of.
This process damages the body’s cells and DNA, leaving the body far more susceptible to disease and aging.
What are the Benefits of Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are nutrients that prevent damage from oxidation in the body, thus fighting against cancer and many other health issues.
You can find antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, and also in items such as tea, wine, cocoa, and spices. Some of the most common antioxidants include Vitamin A and C, beta carotene, and lycopene.
Antioxidants been shown to provide protection against quite a few degenerative diseases, such as:
· Alzheimer’s disease;
· Immune dysfunction;
· Cataracts; and
· Cognitive impairment
It is no wonder then that there has been such hype generated over the subject of antioxidants and the so-called super foods that contain them.
Where can I Find Antioxidants?
There are various kinds of antioxidants with each offering its own unique benefits.
Increasing the amount of antioxidants in your diet is a case of simply eating more of the foods that are rich in them, for example:
· Vitamin A
Found in egg yolks, oily fish, kale, chard, sweet potatoes, carrots;
· Vitamin C
Found in leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries;
· Vitamin E
Found in egg yolks, oily fish, nuts;
Found in flax oil;
Found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit;
Found in brazil nuts, garlic, chicken; and
· Flavonoids and Polyphenols
Found in red wine, green tea, soy
These are all foods that would typically be found in a well-balanced diet. If you are lacking in a few areas then be sure to add some additional healthy foods to your diet to ensure you get a full array of antioxidants.
It is important bear in mind that some antioxidants are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be consumed with some amount of fat in order for the body to be able to utilize them.
Beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E are fat-soluble, so although they are found in vegetables and grains, in the case of vitamins A and E it would be far more effective to consume fatty sources such as real butter, egg yolks and oily fish.
Another great way to get the most out of your vegetables and leafy greens is to make salads or stir fries using healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or real butter. Combining these additional fats with the nutritional power houses that are vegetables will boost your body’s absorption rate of crucial nutrients.